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Celebrity Q&A: Dax Shepard of 'Armchair Expert' and 'The Ranch'

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |

Dax Shepard dishes on holiday traditions and reveals what keeps him afloat

Dax Shepard is an actor, writer, director and host of his own podcast, Armchair Expert. This holiday season, he teamed up with Amazon to promote a new way to give back. He delivered toys to deserving kids that were donated to Toys for Tots through Alexa, and demonstrated how anyone can give a toy to a kid in need by saying, “Alexa, donate to Toys for Tots.” He also stars in The Ranch with Ashton Kutcher, Debra Winger and Sam Elliott.

Dax Shephard delivering toys through a partnership with Toys for Tots and Amazon (Photo: Delivering Smiles Tour)

Dax Shephard delivering toys through a partnership with Toys for Tots and Amazon (Photo: Delivering Smiles Tour)

You are so prolific. In addition to acting, writing and directing, you have a podcast, Armchair Expert. And in it you say you are fascinated by messiness of being human. How has that messiness made you thrive? 
Dax Shepard
: I’m in a unique situation where I’ve gotten so much external validation that admitting my faults and owning my many character defects can be useful to other people struggling with similar imperfections. I think hearing (that) someone who seems to have all the good fortune in the world can still wrestle with self-esteem and be approval-seeking can help others feel normal for the same shortcomings.

How has your improv training helped you as an artist?
: The number one gift that I took away from improv training is being forced to listen to people, which is something I’ve wrestled with my whole life.

What is the best career advice you have received? 
: It is very cliché, but on year eight of unemployment and debating whether or not to go into accounting, someone said, “Better to fail at something you love than not to try at all.” I’ve held onto it.

How will you be celebrating the holidays? 
: I am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving feasts. I 100% respect those who are, but Christmas is my real eating holiday. My mother makes nine of my favorite different childhood recipes, and I spend most of day warming food in the microwave. So, my holiday tradition is to pack on 11 pounds in eight days

I know that giving back is particularly important to you. Do you have a story about giving back? 
: We grew up on an incredibly tight budget, but as my mother climbed the ladder at General Motors and then ultimately created her own business, we had more means. My mother found out about families in our town, Milford, Michigan, that needed help at Christmas. We would go shopping and deliver presents to those kids in need. My stepdad dressed up as Santa Claus while we dressed as elves to deliver presents to the kids in different neighborhoods in our town. 

This was probably the most fun we had at Christmas. I give my mom, Laura Labo, all the credit, but my wife is even more charitable, so I guess she passed the baton onto her. The long and the short of it is, if these women weren’t part of my life, I’d probably be the Grinch.

How do you teach your children about giving back? 
: We have a tradition that we have been doing with both of our kids when they have other kids over. We encourage them to pick a toy that may bring their friend(s) some fun and re-gift it to them. We are trying to teach them that things they like have two waves of fun. Once when you get it. And next, when you see how much joy it brings to someone else. So, the kids are now in the habit of suggesting which toy they think someone else would enjoy.

The great thing about Christmas is it’s an easy way for kids to understand that they are going to be getting toys for Christmas and other kids are sadly less fortunate. It’s all a very easy way for them to empathize and to imagine waking up and not getting anything.

Do you have any holiday traditions with your family?
: We generally alternate Christmas with my mother, so we often road trip to Oregon to spend Christmas with her. We stop along the way at different coastal towns in California, which has become a tradition.

You recently hand delivered toys via your Delivering Smiles Tour. Can you tell us more about this program?
: I joined Amazon and spent the day giving back to the Los Angeles community with random acts of kindness. I started the morning at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, delivering toys to deserving kids that were donated through Toys for Tots via Alexa. What’s great is that anyone can get involved and give back this holiday season. It’s seriously as easy as talking to Alexa. You can give a toy to a kid in need by saying, “Alexa, donate to Toys for Tots.” Amazon is matching donations toy for toy. 

For the best of New York City during the holidays, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in January 2019.


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